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Friday thoughts: That’s good. That’s a good one

October 10, 2009

Understandably, we did not see the game. We did, however, listen to a majority of it and, while we were not entirely pleased with what we heard, we were certainly pleased with the end product, a 3-0 win, which, one supposes, is all that truly matters.

Let’s start with the positives because hey, we’re positive dudes. First and foremost, how about Kory Falite? He caught a fair amount of criticism from all corners — coaches, media, us, etc. — last year for his generally laissez-faire attitude toward all things that did not involve either shooting the puck or standing in one place and waiting for someone to pass him the puck so that he could attempt to shoot it. Last week, we saw very little in the exhibition game that would have dissuaded us from the belief that this is his game and he wouldn’t be changing, like it or lump it. Well he was out to prove the doubters wrong tonight.

His first contribution was, unsurprisingly, on the power play, when his one-timer on Lowell’s first power play of the year produced a scrum in front of the net, and Maury Edwards emerged with the puck and backhanded it past SLU’s Alex Petizian for a 1-0 lead at 7:46 of the period. But it was his second contribution that caught our attention because he was, by the accounts of Bob Ellis and new SID Sean Hladik (spelling?), he was playing with his hair on fire on the forecheck tonight. It was, after all, his heads-up pokecheck early in the second that dislodged the puck from an oncoming St. Lawrence defender and eventually led to Ben Holmstrom’s goal, which actually came with him facing the net! (We couldn’t believe it either, but the writeup on Hockey East’s website even goes so far as to say it was from 35 feet out, which is crazy. We’ll reserve judgment for now, but if Holmstrom has added a legitimate shot to his already-impressive game, then this kid is an All-Hockey East candidate for sure.) Anyway, Falite later iced the game with an empty-net goal, rounding out a 1-2-3 night that, perhaps a bit unlike most big Falite games, came almost entirely as a direct result of hard work on his part as opposed to him simply getting by on his prodigious talent alone. It’s great to see him motivated and we hope it lasts all season.

The second positive is that Carter Hutton came to play, making 24 saves to earn the shutout. While this almost certainly wasn’t the hardest Hutton has had to work in his career, the game was not without its trying moments. The first period especially seemed harrowing, as Hutton was forced to make a number of good saves on shots from wacky angles and high-percentage areas. But he made them with little fanfare, so there’s that. In the second period, Lowell’s defense seemed to clamp down a bit more, allowing just nine shots, and then sealed the game off completely by conceding just five in the final 20 minutes, which is pretty much all you can ask for, and the penalty kill was apparently rather impressive.

And here’s where we get to a not-so-good part that’s swaddled inside a pretty good part: Lowell’s defense today is especially impressive because they did it without Nick Schaus, who was suspended for reasons unnamed and did not make the trip to Omaha. The good news is that Tim Corcoran was a perfectly reasonable fill-in and seemed to have a good game on the third pairing alongside Steve Capraro (Barry Goers slotted into Schaus’ spot on the top pairing with Jeremy Dehner), as we’d suspected he would be. The bad news is you don’t want to have a guy like Nick Schaus, who contributes heavily at both ends of the ice and, we don’t need to tell you, can also send a message to the opposition and fire his boys up at the same time with a thunderous body check pretty much whenever he feels like it, missing time, especially for disciplinary reasons. We will admit that it’s nice he wasn’t needed tonight, but at the same time, we’d like to get him back as soon as possible. He’s going to be massively important to this team’s success, and everyone involved knows that.

All involved would admit that Lowell didn’t play its best hockey tonight, but let’s be honest: if Lowell can get away with not playing its best hockey and still get a 3-0 shutout, then that’s fine with us for right now; the non-conference schedule is the time to work out all the little hang-ups and bang-ups (speaking of which, Joe Caveney was already out 6-8 weeks prior to this game, and Mike Scheu left late in the game after being slashed by St. Lawrence’s Jeff Caister, who is now On the Radar at the very least, pending further news of Scheu’s availability for tomorrow). As long as the ‘Hawks win and it’s still October, we’re cool with whatever.

Nebraska-Omaha barely edged Army of all teams, so there’s your opponent for tomorrow. If the stats and talk are any indication, that game should be rather similar to tonight’s affair.

It’s nice to get that first W.

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